Khartoum is falling – the global community must move fast to protect children in their darkest moments


Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait, speaks with a young Sudanese refugee in Borota during a field visit with UNHCR to the border regions of Chad with Sudan. PHOTO/ECW

As unprecedentedly fierce armed battles play out on the streets of Khartoum, more than 600 people are dead, thousands injured, and over 1 million displaced.

The fighting, which broke out suddenly on April 15, 2023, between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and Sundanese Armed Forces, is Sudan’s third internal war – and has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis the region was already facing.

More than 220,000 people have crossed the borders. Without a ceasefire, it will get even worse as a protracted crisis is in the making. UNHCR projects that this number could reach 860,000 as conflict escalates.

Education Cannot Wait’s Executive Director Yasmine Sherif came face-to-face with the effects of the brutal conflict during a recent high-level field mission with UNHCR, UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and local partners to the border regions of Chad and Sudan, where they witnessed the impacts of the war. In these remote places, large numbers of incoming refugees – a majority of women and children – have settled in flimsy temporary homemade tents. Children are particularly vulnerable and urgently need the protection and support that emergency education interventions provide.

“What we saw is appalling, a heartbreaking dire situation growing very fast. In just two days, the number of refugees grew from 30,000 to 60,000, and 70 percent of them were school-age children. But I am encouraged by the commendable work that UNHCR is doing on the ground.”

The UN’s global fund for education responded with speed to the escalating Sudan refugee regional crisis by announcing a new 12-month USD 3 million First Emergency Response grant. Sherif says this is a catalytic fund to help UNHCR and its partners, in close coordination with Chad’s government, kickstart a holistic education program.

Before the new crisis erupted in Sudan and despite Chad being one of the poorest countries in the world, Chad was already hosting Africa’s fourth largest refugee population.

Inter Press Service for more

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